A couple of weeks ago at the MWC LA 2021 event, IBM announced that it would be partnering with both Cisco and Palo Alto Networks. My colleague and fellow analyst Ron Westfall and I covered this partnership in a recent episode of our webcast The 5G Factor and, yet again, these are examples of strategic partnerships being the way forward, especially as it relates to the 5G ecosystem. These partnership deals between IBM and Cisco and IBM and Palo Alto Networks is all about slice lifecycle management and mitigating security challenges, both of which will become increasingly more important as 5G becomes more prevalent, with more customers and more 5G related service offerings proliferate. The IBM Cisco partnership is about the pairing of IBM’s Cloud Pak platform with Cisco’s Crosswork service, which is intended to facilitate the automation and abstraction of the complexity of managing the virtualization of radio and network core. Much like with the Samsung Ciena partnership we discussed earlier in our webcast, companies are focused on slice lifecycle management, slice assurance, and slice troubleshooting, which are critical to maintaining service level agreements, so they’re laying the foundation for that here. IBM and Palo Alto Networks’ partnership is about security and helping to mitigate the security challenges that telco operators have as they deploy 5G services and edge services. Why is this important? IBM has reported that some 75% of operators have experienced incidents of fraud, with 61% reporting that network security threats have increased significantly in the last two years — threat actors haven’t hesitated to take advantage of a global pandemic to wreak havoc where possible. Security virtualization is all about shifting security functions from dedicated hardware appliances to software that can either be moved between commodity hardware or run in the cloud. With the increased virtualization of compute and network environments, there’s a demand for the virtualization of security functions in a portable way, so they can move along with the apps and compute workloads wherever needed.